July 30 2016
BREXIT AND UK HERITAGE RAILWAYS
Statement from the Heritage Railway Association
As subjects of regulation that originates at European levels, as sometimes beneficiaries of EU grant funding, and as key players in UK tourism, the UK's heritage railway operators have many questions arising from the outcome of the EU membership referendum.
As is the case for all businesses in the UK, it will take time for answers to emerge. Brian Simpson OBE, Heritage Railway Association Chairman said, 'The EU Referendum is over and, to my great disappointment the Country has voted to leave.
'What effect this will have on Heritage Railways is hard to judge. There is bound to be a great deal of uncertainty in the coming months and years. The decision that will have a profound effect on our country. Heritage Railways will, of course, carry on doing what they do best, providing the experience of travelling by train in a bygone era, and competing with other tourist attractions for visitors and enthusiasts alike.'
The heritage railway sector is better-placed than many to survive the challenges ahead. Tourism will continue to be a major contributor to the U economy. Heritage railways attract more than 11 million visitors every year.
Simpson said, 'The grants that some railways and tramways received from the EU will cease when we leave the EU. In the long term there may be cost rises in all sorts of purchases; especially imports and fuel. Those cost increases may include copper and other non-ferrous metals - important to locomotive owners.'
The Heritage Railway Association works closely with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Railways. It will ensure that parliamentarians are well briefed about the need for the sector to receive funding from the UK government, to replace the EU grant funding for railways, tramways and all our members, that will inevitably cease.
The HRA does not expect significant change in the railways safety regulations or in the UK regulators' interpretation of European Directives, or in the ROGS 2006* Safety Regulations.
Meanwhile, the relative weakness of Sterling, while unhelpful to the UK economy at large, may provide a boost to inbound tourism (visits by railway enthusiasts from overseas), and may lead UK residents to look more to the UK for holidays and leisure breaks. The HRA will be working with its partners in Visit England/Britain, Visit Scotland and Croeso Cymru to maximise any short and long-term opportunities to build the role of heritage railways in tourism, and to help members capitalise on that growth.
Simpson said 'My message to heritage railway operators is to keep on giving excellent service to visitors. That's what 's enabled our sector to grow and thrive, regardless of EU membership.' He continued, 'Many people are upset by a perception that they are being taken out of the EU against their will. But what we need now is a time of reflection and calm for us all.'
The HRA has already begun the process of anticipating and analysing the impact of Brexit on every aspect of heritage railway operation. 'It's at times like this that support and guidance for members comes to the forefront of our work as an association. Where the issues are clear, we'll explain. Where there are unknowns, we'll be working to find the answers. ' said Simpson.
*The Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems (Safety) Regulations 2006. ROGS provide the regulatory regime for rail safety, including the mainline railway, metros (including London Underground), tramways, light rail and heritage railways.
Contact: Roger Carey, Carey Communications. 01296 688366 or 07973 873245, or email@example.com